Pablo Picasso (October 25, 1881 – April 8, 1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France. He is arguably the most important figure of the 20th century, in terms of art, and art movements that occurred over this period. Before the age of 50, Picasso had become the most well-known name in modern art, with the most distinct style and eye for artistic creation. Now known as the father of modern art, Picasso’s free spirit, his eccentric style, and his complete disregard for what others thought of his work and creative style, made him a catalyst for artists to follow.
Although his art career spanned over a 7 decade period, Pablo Picasso is most known for his introduction of cubism, and modern approach to painting, which set forth the movements to follow into the twentieth century. Not only was his art form well ahead of his time, but the works he created went on to influence artists and painters down the line, for a period of more than 50 years, and still influences the styles of many artists today.
Around 1910, Pablo Picasso moved toward abstraction and experimented with different types of representation to challenge the orthodoxy of illusionistic space in painting. Working with Georges Braque, Picasso created one of the most influential visual art styles of the early twentieth century – Cubism. Abandoning traditional use of perspective, Picasso created a convincing three-dimensional illusion of space, challenging viewers to understand a subject broken down into its geometrical components. Cubism rejected the inherited concept that art should copy nature, and becomes a form that was no longer intended to depict reality. Cubism artists wanted to emphasize the two-dimensionality of the canvas, so they reduced and fractured objects into geometric forms, and then realigned these within a shallow, relief-like space. In this way, Pablo Picasso truly transcended the art world, the way in which art came to be, and future works created by other artists that followed him.
Cubism, especially the second form, known as Synthetic Cubism, played a great role in the development of the western art world. Works of this phase emphasize the combination, or synthesis, of forms in the picture. Colour is extremely important in the objects’ shapes because they become larger and more decorative. Non-painted objects such as newspapers or tobacco wrappers are frequently pasted on the canvas in combination with painted areas – the incorporation of a wide variety of extraneous materials is particularly associated with Picasso’s novel technique of collage. This collage technique emphasizes the differences in texture and poses the question of what is reality and what is illusion in painting. With his use of color, shape and geometrical figures, and his unique approach to depicting images, Picasso changed the direction of art for generations to come.
Another aspect of his works that differentiated Pablo Picasso from other artists of his time was the fact that his works depicted his personal feeling, as well as the outside world. He wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries of the human mind. Comical and fantasy were also the types of works that Picasso focused on, as his career moved forward. Graphic arts, ceramics, and sculptures were the methods that he used most, as opposed to painting and etched works, which were the predominant choices early on in his career. During his lifetime, Picasso produced thousands of stage designs, illustrations, and a series of drawings, which represented these themes, and distinct styles.
Towards the end of his career, Picasso enjoyed examining Classical works that had influenced his development over the years and produced several series of variations of paintings of Old Master, including Francisco Goya, Diego Velazquez, and Edouard Manet, the founder of modern traditions.
When Picasso died at age 91 in April 1973, he had become one of the most famous and successful artists throughout history. He is also undeniably the most prolific genius in the history of art. His career spanned over a 78 year period, in which he created: 13,500 paintings, 100,000 prints and engravings, and 34,000 illustrations.